DJ Paul, one-half of the Oscar-winning and platinum-selling Memphis rap pioneers Three 6 Mafia, talked with the Flyer about his latest album/DVD, A Person of Interest, working on a new mixtape with fellow Memphis artist and producer Drumma Boy, stepping back into the DJ-ing realm, and more.
Flyer: There’s been a lot of coverage on fellow Three 6 Mafia member Juicy J and his new endeavors with Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang imprint, but can you give readers an update on what you’ve been up to lately?
DJ Paul: Just DJ-ing, man. Still doing my live performances, obviously, but I’ve been doing a lot of DJ performances as well. I’ve got the new album out. It came out the end of last year. I’m still promoting that. I’m shooting videos from that. And we’re finalizing a new mixtape called Clash of Da Titans. It’s me and Drumma Boy.
Flyer: What are your thoughts on A Person of Interest?
DJ Paul: It’s my favorite solo album that I’ve done. I like it more than I did the Scale-a-Ton album, because I think it was a lot more raw. I like the piano solos that we put in the album.
Flyer: You’re back DJ-ing now. Isn’t that how you got your start with music?
DJ Paul: Yeah, I used to DJ in [Club] 380 Beale, and I had a couple clubs myself. That was how it all started. That was originally how I learned how to use my studio equipment. I just wanted to be a producer. I didn’t want to be a rapper. So I would make beats for Lord Infamous, and [he] would rap.
But as a way to get extra money, I would take the equipment I bought — a keyboard, a turntable, and a four-track recorder — and I would make mixtapes and sell them in high school. But then I got slick with it. I would start mixing my artists’ songs in between it. You know, like sneak it in and kinda introduce the song. So I might be playing like some LL Cool J, then I throw in some Skinny Pimp in the middle of it, and then come out of it into some N.W.A., Geto Boys, or whatever the case was. And I eventually started making mixtapes with more of our songs on them until the mixtapes turned into just our songs, like mixtapes are now today.
Flyer: What made you return to DJ-ing?
DJ Paul: The reason why I’m back in it today is because, well, I look at it two ways. One way is, obviously, I’m getting older around here. I can’t predict the future, but I can’t imagine that somebody is gonna want to see me bounce around a stage at 65 years old talking about ‘Tear Da Club Up,’ ‘Sippin’ on Sizzurp,’ and I got a glock in my drawers and shit like that. So I’m just prepared for the future.
It’s easy to sell and play somebody else’s hits than to be sitting up here, 55 years old, trying to write your own. And it’s fun to get up there and DJ. You got all your boys in the DJ booth with you and your girls. You travel state-to-state and country-to-country, just playing records, rocking the crowd, and still get on the mic and do your own songs.
And then it’s something that I always liked. When I’m at the house and I throw parties, I have a DJ booth set up in my living room with the speakers that go out all over the house — to the theater room upstairs, to the swimming pool outside. In my living room, I got disco balls, lights, and all that. You’ll think you’re in the club when you’re in my house. I be up in there just DJ-ing. It’s something that I do at the house anyway, so I was like, shit, I might as well start back doing it in the club and get paid for it.
Flyer: It’s been several years since Three 6 Mafia released their last album, Last 2 Walk. Is there anything in the works to be dropped for the future?
DJ Paul: Naw, there ain’t nothing in the works right now. You know, both of us are doing our solo thing. He’s doing his thing with [Taylor Gang] right now, and I’m doing my thing with Drumma Boy and the DJ-ing and all that, so we really haven’t had time to do anything together. We still talk about the next project and this and that, but we haven’t physically recorded anything. But in the future, we’re definitely going to do something.
Flyer: What can listeners expect from the mixtape with Drumma Boy?
DJ Paul: Us being two of the hardest producers to come out of the South, we thought that it would be cool if we came together and made one. Both of us are producing and rapping on it. We’ve got features on it. We’re gonna drop it on 7-11 [July 11th].
Flyer: Who are some artists that you’re listening to right now?
DJ Paul: I like Waka Flocka. I like A$AP Rocky. I like Kendrick Lamar. I don’t listen to a lot of rap, to be honest. I listen to more shit like David Guetta and Diplo. I like a lot of the EDM [electronic dance music] cats like Skrillex. I listen to a lot of ’80s and ’70s music.
For a longer version of this interview, see Louis Goggans’ blog, “Calling the Bluff,” at memphisflyer.com/blogs/callingthebluff.